Tester Fights for Montana Airports, Urges Trump Administration to Help Keep Them Running
Senator and colleagues call on the President to put federal dollars into airports, especially in rural areas
With Montana airports seeing massive declines in traffic due to the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Senator Jon Tester is working to ensure local airports are not left behind as Congress works to create a "Phase III" coronavirus legislative stimulus package.
"Our airlines play a critical role in the U.S. economy, and Montana's airline industry relies on small regional airports-like Great Falls International-that connect this country together, and which have seen a significant drop in traffic over the last week," said Tester. "While the President considers a boost for air carriers, I'm urging him to support a plan to help our local airports that employ hundreds of workers, help drive our state's economy and keep us connected."
Montana airports have seen substantial drops in passengers since the COVID-19 pandemic brought air travel to a standstill in the United States. According to industry association estimates U.S. airports are on track to lose nearly $14 billion in operating revenue in 2020. On top of this, airports are facing new demands on operations, uncertainties about their ability to pay down debt obligations or complete projects, and increased pressure to reduce costs.
Tester led a group of his colleagues in urging the Trump Administration to ensure that airports across the country-particularly those in rural communities-get the funding and resources they need to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.
"Airports play a key role in our local and regional economies and ensure our constituents have access to the national aviation system. However, the current COVID-19 outbreak is having a significant impact on airports of all sizes," wrote the Senators in a letter to President Trump. "...As your administration considers proposals to help our nation's airlines respond to this public health crisis, we urge you to ensure sufficient funding is also available to meet the needs of our nation's airports."
Tester is asking the Trump Administration to provide robust assistance the Federal Aviation Administration's Airport Improvement Program, which is a critical tool for airports to receive federal funding for development and planning. He is also requesting that they create safeguards when deploying federal funding to ensure that smaller airports are able to maintain adequate service and not losing out to their larger counterparts.
Tester has led the charge in ensuring Montana small businesses are secure during the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week, he successfully pressured Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to extend the 2019 tax filing deadline for individuals and businesses. He also announced that the Small Business Administration would be providing economic disaster assistance for all of Montana's 56 counties, providing much-needed support for the state's main street businesses.
Tester's letter can be found HERE.